Last month, SNK Playmore and DotEmu released an iOS port of Metal Slug 3, an arcade shooter that made excellent use of the iCade joystick accessories. We clamored for more arcade ports with iCade support, and Blazing Star fits the bill. Unfortunately, this shooter has much less charm and replayability than Metal Slug, making it a disappointing follow-up.
Blazing Star was originally released in 1998 for arcades, and the button-mashing action practically requires physical controls. In typical side-scrolling shooter style, you have to precisely weave through a storm of bullets while pounding away on the fire button. Boss battles are timed, too, so if you can’t shoot quickly enough, you’ll be left with an anticlimactic ending to each level.
The distant future, the year 2000.
As you fly through each level, you’ll be able to pick up bland power-ups that will increase your rate of fire, or add missiles to your arsenal. The enemies are all unremarkable spaceships or mechs, and offer none of the personality of Metal Slug 3’s giant crabs or spewing zombies. The only break from Blazing Star’s cold and metallic style are the goofy snippets of text that insult you for dying, like “hey poor player!” and “you fail it!”
But that’s all part of the original game. This iOS port does attempt to improve on the original by letting you select individual levels. And like Metal Slug 3, Blazing Star only offers you five continues, so the online leaderboards through Game Center are highly skill-based. There’s no way to buy yourself a better score through in-app purchases.
Short of replaying it for a high score (and possibly injuring your thumbs in the process), there’s no real reason to play Blazing Star more than once or twice. It doesn’t offer branching paths or a compelling storyline like Metal Slug 3, and the enemy robots are highly forgettable.
SNK Playmore and DotEmu have a big opportunity here to set the standards for iCade-compatible arcade ports. We’d like to see them port more popular, personality-filled series like Fatal Fury and Samurai Showdown to iOS with iCade support, instead of nondescript space shooters like Blazing Star.